Three Lessons from the Bistrian Family, Romania

Each month, we introduce you to a Christian who is on the generosity path, and we ask them what God’s taught them about giving.

This month, meet Emanuel and Bianca Bistrian from Romania.

1. Give First.

“We started a real estate fund as Romania was going through a boom; we were buying and selling property,” Emanuel explains. “Now we’ve moved into developing entire communities—a community feel where everything is within walking distance.” When the Bistrians’ firm sells a house, the first part goes to God; they give away the first 4000€ of each home sale. “We need to change the culture in Romania from receiving to giving. God gave first, so we should give first.” To remind themselves of this principle, the Bistrians have named their NGO “Give First.”

God gave first, so we should give first.

2. Mature Toward Strategic Giving.

Emanuel describes their giving journey this way: “In the past, it was all about ‘we have this much available and let’s get rid of it. We have trusted partners, so 2000€ to this and 3000€ to that. That was our structure—or our lack of structure!”

Bianca agrees: “We want God to give us direction. We pray for areas to give to. We’re not just trying to do it using our human knowledge.” Emanuel says, “That led us to decide to give to three main areas.” Those are:

  • promoting Christianity (church planting, evangelism)
  • humanitarian relief (Christian ministries eradicating poverty or supporting the elderly)
  • education (training leaders, improving ministries inspiring other Romanian givers).

3. Giving Expertise.

As the Bistrians engage with ministries in Romania, they’ve spotted a need for coaching and consulting. “Many ministries have great hearts, but not a lot of structure,” says Emanuel. “In Romania, some things are done under the table. When it comes to keeping the books intact, it’s not good,” he says. “People give money for one thing and it’s used for something else. Not something bad, but just not what the giver wanted.”

“So we can really help,” says Bianca. “We’re working to offer coaching and business consulting to help ministries find their unique role, and to create the transparency that a lot of them are lacking. We want to create sustainability and not dependency. We aren’t trying to control them, but at the same time we do have to evaluate which ones value structure and transparency like we do.”

The Bistrians loves to give to:

Viorel started working with homeless people 12 years ago. He heard the news one evening that two people in his town had died of cold. He thought, “Well, I have two spare rooms that I could let someone use.” That moment changed his life. Slowly, his home turned into a shelter for the elderly and abandoned. Now over 280 people are in his care, in 12 homes that people have donated to him; he now is praying to expand to other cities. Beyond meeting physical needs, Viorel gives love, compassion and a place to feel at home.

“All the activity carried out there for the benefit of the needy is possible because of givers’ generosity,” says Bianca. “We believe caring for so many people is true faith in God.” Emanuel adds, “We took our whole team for a visit there and were profoundly moved by Viorel’s joy and love for this work. It’s a joy to get to support his amazing work.”

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